Gloria AnzaldĂșa


Gloria E. Anzaldúa was an American poet and scholar who specialized in Chicana, queer, and feminist theory. A seventh generation Tejana (Texans culturally descended from the Mexican population that made up the region before it became an American state) born in the Rio Grande Valley, much of Anzaldúa’s writing is influenced by her upbringing on Texan ranches on the border between there and Mexico. She graduated high school as valedictorian and went on to earn a BA in English, Art, and Education and an MA in English and Education from the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and the University of Texas at Austin, respectively. All of her adult life was spent in education; first working as a preschool and special education teacher after college, then as a lecturer teaching Chicano studies, feminism, and creative writing at universities across California. Anzaldúa’s personal writing is notable for the way it jumps seamlessly between multiple dialects of both English and Spanish, a sort of code-switching that often requires the reader to be bilingual and experienced in the same dialects to unravel the meaning of even a single sentence. With heritage connected to Indigenous Americans and Spanish German settlers, her bilingual writing style reflects an ‘in-between-ness’ she felt throughout her life, a multi-dimensional culture that she ultimately learned to celebrate. She often described her sexuality the same way, as a “multi-sexuality” that could not be pinned down. Her writing integrates cultural theory, autobiography, and Latin American history into foundational texts of Chicano academic studies. Her pioneering work Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza (1987) combines autobiography, poetry, and essay to explore colonialism, gender, and identity through the Chicano experience. She also co-edited several essay collections, including the influential This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color (1981), which focused on feminism and intersectionality. These two radical works have gone on to be some of the most cited books in both Chicano studies and feminist theory, respectively. At the time of her passing in 2004, Anzaldúa was nearing the finish of her dissertation to earn her doctorate in literature from the University of California, Santa Cruz, which she was awarded posthumously a year later. Source

To Live in the Borderlands

To live in the borderlands means you

are neither hispana india negra espanola

ni gabacha, eres mestiza, mulata, half-breed

caught in the crossfire between camps

while carrying all five races on your back

not knowing which side to turn to, run from;


To live in the Borderlands means knowing that the india in you, betrayed for 500 years,

is no longer speaking to you,

the mexicanas call you rajetas, that denying the Anglo inside you

is as bad as having denied the Indian or Black;

Cuando vives en la frontera

people walk through you, the wind steals your voice,

you’re a burra, buey, scapegoat,

forerunner of a new race,

half and half-both woman and man, neither-a new gender;


To live in the Borderlands means to

put chile in the borscht,

eat whole wheat tortillas,

speak Tex-Mex with a Brooklyn accent;

be stopped by la migra at the border checkpoints;


Living in the Borderlands means you fight hard to

resist the gold elixir beckoning from the bottle,

the pull of the gun barrel,

the rope crushing the hollow of your throat;


In the Borderlands

you are the battleground

where enemies are kin to each other;

you are at home, a stranger,

the border disputes have been settled

the volley of shots have scattered the truce

you are wounded, lost in action

dead, fighting back;


To live in the Borderlands means

the mill with the razor white teeth wants to shred off

your olive-red skin, crush out the kernel, your heart

pound you pinch you roll you out

smelling like white bread but dead;


To survive the Borderlands

you must live sin fronteras

be a crossroads.





Literary Movements:

Chicano Poetry

Anthology Years:





Intersectionality & Culture

Literary Devices:


visually descriptive or figurative language, especially in a literary work


a comparison between two unrelated things through a shared characteristic


the attribution of human qualities to a non-human thing


a recurrence of the same word or phrase two or more times